Welcoming Lindsay

Although some would say, “a just turned 14-year-old is an obvious candidate for an abortion,” the teenager wanted a baby. She did everything she could to stay pregnant – including following doctor’s orders to lie flat on her back in bed the last four months before the infant’s birth.

But once she had a squalling infant in her arms, reality hit and the still 14-year-old handed the baby’s care over to an older woman who had helped raise her. The young mother quickly scurried back into the life of an American teenager and – except for the times she was paid to babysit her own child – kept track of her child only from a distance. When drugs entered the home of the acting mother, she took the now pre-school aged child away and accepted another relative’s offer to care for the bright-eyed, little brunette.

That was when this engaging child entered my life. I loved her and would have taken her home with me in a heart beat. But our oldest son and his wife had dibs, so we settled for counting her as one of our grandchildren – as did her grandmother Oma from Holland – and grandfather Opa, a World War II decorated POW survivor. They lived close enough to invite her over every couple weeks to spend the night.
As grandparents, we loved the child and watched with amusement as her great-aunt and uncle carried her around long after most children ran ahead of the adults. We listened to their fears that the maturing birth mother would want her daughter to return and live with her permanently – especially after she married and had more children. If nothing else, the mother could have used her daughter’s extra pair of hands.

At times my son and daughter-in-love anxiously held their breath, fearful that this child they called their third daughter would not be able to continue to live with them. But even when she left for a while, always, for one reason or another, she returned to their home and care.

As she reached an age when family courts recognize a child’s expressed preference in living arrangements, son and daughter-in-love began talking about finalizing the decisions mother, child and unofficial guardians had made time and again over the years. They began talking about adoption.

Then the emotional reality of her situation slammed down hard on the child. In middle school, her aunt and uncle struggled to keep her focused on her studies and to keep her grades above C-level. Grappling to understand everything that had happened to her in 11 years, the pre-teen slid further behind. Her unofficial, but permanent guardians, insisted – over the teacher’s objections – that she repeat sixth grade. They thought she needed it, if for no other reason than to give her time to catch up with herself.
The teachers did not agree, the school did not agree, but looking at her grades and the confusion of that last year in middle school and looking ahead to the demands of junior high, her for-all-practical purposes parents decided that this bright, gifted child just needed a break.

They made her repeat the grade. She began resolving the conflicting issues of her personal history. Her grades improved as she assumed responsibility for her studies.
The next year, she entered seventh grade and came into her own. She again made grades reflective of her ability. She found extra-curricular activities and loved the challenge of the new school environment.

At the close of school this year, a lot of details came together to begin the process of making her a permanent member of the Hershberger family. Hearing it would be an uncontested adoption, the lawyer assured them the paperwork would be no problem – the legal rituals would be minimal.

We called them a lot, mostly just to ask “How’s the adoption coming along?”
It took two months. It seemed like forever.

Labor Day weekend, during a family reunion camp-out in the Smoky Mountains, we held a welcoming ceremony to officially accept the newest Hershberger into the family. Her adoptive mother says she acts a bit like me at times. Which I take to mean she fits right into the family – but then, we all always knew that this child belonged with us – we were just waiting to have that truth legally recognized.

(Grandmother of 13, Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at joanh@everybody.org)






One response to “Welcoming Lindsay”

  1. jottingjoan Avatar

    Randy and Patti’s additional comments about adopting Lindsay

    Randy and Patti sent a few comments that I simply lacked the space to incorporate into my column. I thought I would add them here for your information.

    Amy turned 15 years-old – eight days after Lindsay was born.

    (Caroline who was Amy’s Stepmom moved to WV when Lindsay was 3 months old and lived there 2 1/2 years) Caroline then moved back to Indiana and lived alone with Lindsay. Later caroline and Lindsay moved in with Amy and Ricky (Amy’s boyfriend at the time. They are now married and have 4 lovely children) and Kaitlin her half sister. Caroline found a new boyfriend who she moved in with and got involved in drugs and it was at this point that Amy took her away from Caroline. Lindsay was heartbroken but Caroline had made choices that made it so Amy had to take Lindsay away. Amy moved in with her Mom and put Lindsay in School at Jimtown for Kindergarten. Lindsay was so angry that she would act out by ripping barbie doll heads off while muttering things about hating Amy. Amy and Lindsay started going to counseling at oak lawn and Lindsay was so angry that Amy had chased Caroline out of her life that the counselor suggested that Amy give guardianship to us. Amy was overwhelmed and we had been taking Lindsay Just about every weekend for a year now and Amy asked us to take Lindsay in. We were more than happy to have her.

    We watched with amusement as her foster parents carried her around
    long after most children walked.
    –Hey she was extra small for her age ya know. :o) I am just now really starting to see her for her age.

    The teachers did not agree, the school did not agree, but her grades

    —-we did have 1 teacher that made the other teachers mad and really stood up for us and was in agreement with us. Lindsay was in her class the next year and made great improvements. Her 1 Jr High teacher said that Lindsay was “flourishing”.

    Her official mother (Patti) says she acts a bit like me at times. I didn’t ask what she meant,….

    —-Lindsay loves to read more than anything and sometimes will give short snippy answers. Some of her mannerisms when she is talking reminds us of you.

    —–(Joan’s additional comment, sounds like something to discuss at a later time, not right here.)

    —I don’t know what you want to do with the additional info but those were some things I thought of. I think it would be good to mention Oma and Opa. These are Amy’s grandparents and Oma is from Holland. Opa is a decorated WW2 pow survivor. Lindsay was very attached to Opa and he passed away 3 years ago while Lindsay was at camp and we had to go get her from camp so she could attend the funeral. She still spends the night with Oma a couple of times a month. Martha and Bob Craig.
    If I think of more I will tell you.